Chea Sim, president of the Senate and leader of the ruling CPP, suffered a stroke Saturday night and was flown to Bangkok for treatment, officials said.
Chea Son, chief of Chea Sim’s cabinet, said Chea Sim, 67, collapsed at his home and was un-conscious for some time before regaining consciousness at a hospital in Bangkok.
The Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok reported that Chea Sim’s health is improving, though he will stay in the hospital for at least a week, Chea Son said.
“The stroke would have caused a big problem if there was no help from his doctor and [we] had not managed to get him to the hospital in time,” he said. “I was very worried at the beginning, but after the news that he is better, I feel relaxed.”
Senator Kem Sokha said he had not heard about Chea Sim’s stroke, but said he had heard two weeks ago that the Senate president was not feeling well.
Chea Son attributed the stroke to old age and the fact that Chea Sim “thinks a lot.” He said Chea Sim plays sports to improve his health. Chea Sim has a history of heart problems and high blood pressure.
He had been scheduled to visit China from Oct 23 to Oct 27, where he was to meet with high ranking leaders, including former premier Li Peng, said Oum Sarith, secretary-general of the Senate. That trip has been canceled.
Chea Sim took the helm of a newly created Senate after Hun Sen was confirmed as prime minister in the 1998 elections.
Like Hun Sen, Chea Sim was a former militant communist and Khmer Rouge cadre who fled to communist Vietnam fearing internal purges in the late 1970s.
Both men returned as members of the Vietnamese-installed puppet regime in 1979 after Hanoi’s invasion, which toppled the Khmer Rouge regime.
The CPP officially renounced communism in 1989 after the withdrawal of the last Vietnamese troops from Cambodian soil.
(Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse)